Finished Basement Quandry
We are in the process of finishing our basement but have run into a bit of a dilemma that I'm hoping someone else has encountered and can recommend a solution.
Our basement is essentially divided lengthwise into two areas. One half contains all of the utilities, furnace, water conditioner, sump basin and laundry area. The other is wide open. Our intent is to finish the open portion and turn it into a useful space for entertaining.
Dividing these two areas is the support I-beam running the length of the basement. A closet already exists at one end running parallel to the I-beam and the stairwell ends at the I-beam at the other end. This seems perfect except that the I-beam is only 75 inches above the poured concrete floor and being 6 feet tall, I am already acutely aware of this height. In addition, running along the "backside" of the I-beam is the main heat/air duct.
Putting up a wall is not an issue as I can certainly work around the I-beam - in fact, my father suggested using 2x6 boards notched around the I-beam to frame in the dividing wall. My problem is that we need some sort of doorway between the two halves of the basement. To put a door into this wall would require me to cut it down to a 75" height, leaving virtually no headroom for a 6' person to walk through (and forcing anyone taller to duck). I am simply hesitant to do this.
Because of the duct, I'd have to recess the doorway at least 2 feet beyond the wall in order to make it standard height. And, in my mind, this would look pretty ridiculous because the ceiling at the I-beam and across the bottom of the duct would suddenly rise vertically at the door opening. (Make sense?)
Has anyone run into this? I realize that I can change my design but I'm trying to work with the existing construction (closet and staircase) and maximize the space we have in the "main" room while not reducing the other half beyond utility.